More Human Than Human: Why Cats Get Nine Lives And Dogs An Eternal One

Kids aren’t for everybody. But parenting must be.

How else to explain our need to anthropomorphize everything, from hamsters to Hondas? We’re expert at morphing anything into something human-esqe, and just as adept at convincing ourselves that anything human-esque loves us back (except, ironically, other humans).

So I get how crazed people get over cats and dogs. And I have to admit: there have been rare occasions when I have mentioned, perhaps even bragged, on my own domestic partners. But I swear, something’s weird about Teddy and Esme.

If I give them a treat, which is so embarrassingly often they must think they get a Snausage for farting, the hounds know the drill. Both know to sit, silently. Teddy gets the big rawhide, Esme the miniature. I usually give it to Teddy first, because he’s got those eyes that make you think he just came from cosmetic experimentation. That’s right, you manipulative ass, anthropomorphize the hell out of me. So he gets first bite.

And I always feel like a sucker, because the moment he has it, Teddy is gone. I am dead to him. He’ll run to the other side of the yard, like he’s afraid I’ll take it back. Or, preferably, he’ll chew it on the couch, where he concocts his own slobber and rawhide leather conditioner.

But if I give the mini rawhide to Esme first, she does something odd: nothing. She will sit there, treat in mouth, waiting for me to give Teddy his. She’ll do the same thing with food (assuming there’s not a treat in it); wait until Teddy’s bowl is on the ground also.

Whether you’re a vet or a dog freak (ahem), there’s something fascinating going on here. She’s either being polite or she’s waiting to see what Teddy receives. The first is unlikely, but the second is almost as odd; if I gave Teddy hamburger, there’s nothing she could do but accept her own treat. She weighs less than a quarter what Teddy does and knows not to be alpha over issues that matter; she won’t even eat from his bowl in the kitchen.

So what is she observing? And why? She’s smarter than most people I know, so I have to be careful not to assign brilliance. But I’d like the Dog Whisperer to come here and give me a straight answer. Cuz she ain’t talking.

And while he’s here, maybe he can explain Teddy’s behavior when I go to the spa. He and Esme normally bound outside for fetch when they hear neighbor-irritating rock from the jacuzzi and see me heading to the door in a towel (my nipples have become their dog whistle).

Esme, though, is a fair-weather fetcher. If it’s cold or rainy outside, she’ll stay indoors, right here by the space heater, which you will surely turn on before you go outside, thankyouverymuch. Allow me to anthropomorphize that as well; I love her to death, but Esme is all about Esme.

Not Teddy. Yesterday brought more rain to the Valley. There’s something about being the in spa in rain, watching water hit the roof as it percolates your insides. Storms are hypnotic.

Yesterday wasn’t one, but the rain came, hard. I grabbed a towel, knit cap and hit the spa. A good half hour. listening and thinking and settling. Finally, I turn the water off, open the gazebo doors, get ready to bolt for the porch.

And there’s Teddy. Just sitting, waiting. Wet as can be from puddling water. But he isn’t moving until I head in.

Hell yes I anthropomorphize my world. I choose to believe there’s love there, even if I can’t give you a reason why. Esme makes Einstein look like a monkey with a Rubik’s Cube. Teddy’s blossoming heart fills any desolate soul.

But that’s just the dad in me.


At Last




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